Budapest Semester in Mathematics
Through the Budapest Semester in Mathematics program, students in their junior or senior year can spend a semester studying math with leading scholars in Hungary. In an effort to share a history of Hungarian excellence in mathematics across language barriers, all courses are taught in English. There is no language requirement to qualify for this program, but an optional intensive, two-week program in Hungarian language is offered before the commencement of classes. Individual student focus is of high priority for this program, and students can expect intense faculty support to accompany intense courses. All courses are held at the College International campus of the Technical University Budapest, which is located near the city center. All students studying through BSM are allowed to choose between living in a homestay with a Hungarian family, or in an apartment with other BSM students. In order to be eligible for this program, students must have completed a course in Advanced Calculus or Abstract Algebra, and must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
Further info can be found at: http://www.budapestsemesters.com/index.php
It was a very academically strong program. The courses covered a very broad range of topics (all math, though, of course) and levels. You don't register for classes for the first three weeks of class. So this time allows you to go to a ridiculous number of classes and figure out which professors and classes you really enjoy. I found that quite helpful. Also, you can change your grading option at any point during the semester—even after you have seen your final grades. This is somewhat strange, but allows you to more flexibility in your class choices. I felt that the program was academically strong and flexible enough to allow you to get what you wanted out of it. I found an apartment and roommates. The apartment was amazingly beautiful and very centrally located. I mostly cooked my own food, which was fine. The people I know who lived with families also had very nice situations. Although, the Hungarian mothers tried to fatten them up with unending streams of different fried foods and lots of sour cream. You aren't really given the opportunity to get to know Hungarian students-- the program is in a building full of study abroad programs. One option is to tutor Hungarian students in English. This seems to involve going out with the student and speaking to them in English. The language teacher will help you set it up.
The mathematics was excellent, classes were available at many levels and in many subjects, with the option for reading courses which meet two hours a week on any subject you want. The language classes were excellent as well, I highly recommend the two week intensive course though. Living conditions in Hungary are not lacking in much. Once one gets used to a few things, like not having a clothes dryer, and buying food from lots of different small places, rather than one large supermarket (though these exist, and if you want, you can just go there all the time) it isn't much to adjust to. I feel like I am more prepared to take on the workload of my senior year after the intensity of the program I pursued in Hungary. It was good to be able to take so many courses from a wholly different viewpoint of math than the one that exists at Reed. Also, I feel like I have gained a great deal from my contact with the Hungarian culture, it was a great introduction to a fascinating people who I would have otherwise continued to not know about.
Some of the professors are among the best in their fields, and some of the classes are well-taught and challenging. But some of the professors don't teach well and some of the classes have easier homework. I had a great housing situation. Unless you live with a family, you feed yourself. I was fine with food because I was feeding myself. If I had been with a family, veganism would have been difficult. Some of the classes are unique to the program and are taught no where else in the world. Find out what these are and take them. I learned so much about other cultures. I made friends with Hungarians and learned so much about them and how they think of the United States. I also learned a lot of cool math.